20 Things To Consider Before Going Backpacking Around The World

Embracing the unpredictable spirit of the open road, backpacking is a quintessential expression of the itinerant soul’s yearning for discovery and freedom. A world removed from the staid, conventional luxuries of package tours and five-star hotels, it is an intimate exploration of the pulsating heart of the unknown. Through the lens of a backpacker, the world unfolds in an infinite mosaic of experiences and serendipities, each destination a new chapter in a personal travelogue, and every journey a vibrant testament to the human spirit’s indomitable curiosity.

20 Things To Consider Before You Go Backpacking Around The World

Brief Overview of Backpacking

Backpacking is a unique mode of travel, the essence of which lies in its inherent flexibility and minimalistic philosophy. It’s about charting one’s course through the world, luggage light and heart lighter, sustained by the invigorating thrill of fresh horizons and the transforming experiences they herald. From the cobblestoned lanes of medieval European towns to the sun-dappled trails of the Andes, from the vivacious marketplaces of Southeast Asia to the hushed serenity of the Australian outback, backpacking is a passport to the expansive theater of the world, uncurated and unsweetened.

Yet, behind this veil of spontaneity and adventurous abandon lies the pivotal backbone of thorough planning. Unfettered though the backpacking spirit may be, its execution demands a meticulous framework of preparation, without which the journey could easily transform from an exhilarating odyssey to an overwhelming ordeal.

source: PsychoTraveller on YouTube

Importance of Planning for a Backpacking Trip

Planning for a backpacking trip is akin to laying the foundational bricks for an edifice of experiences. It is about charting out a tentative itinerary, researching destinations, understanding logistical dynamics, preparing for exigencies, and ensuring one’s wellbeing in alien terrains. It is a meticulous process that meshes the pragmatic and the unpredictable, creating a flexible blueprint that guides the backpacker while leaving ample room for impromptu diversions.

Even as backpacking celebrates the raw, unscripted essence of travel, the importance of planning cannot be overstated. It ensures that the spirit of adventure is bolstered by a robust safety net, thereby creating an equilibrium between the freedom of spontaneity and the assurance of preparedness. It is in this equilibrium that the magic of backpacking truly comes alive, inviting the traveler to delve into the extraordinary tapestry of the world, poised confidently on the cusp of discovery and security.

source: Gabriel Traveler on YouTube

1) Understanding the Nature of Backpacking

Embarking on a backpacking expedition is much akin to immersing oneself in an unfolding narrative where the journey’s richness is found not merely in the destination, but predominantly in the voyage itself. The essence of backpacking travel resides in its celebration of simplicity and spontaneity, and the capacity to unearth profound joy and insight in the most unpretentious corners of the world.

The Essence of Backpacking Travel

This is a travel style that has at its core a potent yearning for authenticity. It is about the unfiltered experience of different cultures, the thrill of navigating unfamiliar landscapes, and the deep, human connections forged along the way. Each footstep imprinted in foreign lands is an echo of the backpacker’s insatiable curiosity and ceaseless desire for discovery.

Backpacking is, in many ways, the antithesis of the tourism industry’s commoditized predictability. It is an intimate dance with the unexpected, an open-hearted embrace of the unknown. Through the eyes of a backpacker, every new encounter is an opportunity for learning, every challenge a prospect for growth, and every divergence from the planned path, an unexpected subplot in the grand narrative of their journey.

Pros and Cons of Backpacking

Yet, for all its romantic allure and transformative potential, backpacking is a nuanced pursuit that carries its distinctive set of advantages and drawbacks.

On the positive side, backpacking offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility. Unfettered by rigid itineraries, the backpacker is free to explore at their own pace, carving a personalized path through the world. This mode of travel can also be significantly economical, as it typically eschews luxury accommodations and expensive attractions in favor of budget-friendly alternatives and free experiences.

Moreover, the immersion in local cultures and environments afforded by backpacking leads to a far deeper understanding and appreciation of the destinations. This, combined with the friendships often forged in hostels and along trails, results in a richly rewarding and fulfilling travel experience.

However, backpacking isn’t devoid of challenges. The need for constant decision-making and problem-solving, coupled with the physical demands of carrying one’s belongings, can lead to mental and physical fatigue. Accommodations might lack comfort, and the frugality of meals could detract from the culinary experience. The absence of a structured plan can also lead to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability, particularly in unfamiliar or potentially unsafe environments.

Backpacking, therefore, isn’t for everyone. It necessitates a spirit of adventure, an appetite for uncertainty, and a high degree of resilience and adaptability. Yet, for those willing to step out of their comfort zones, the rewards are abundant: a kaleidoscope of experiences and memories, a heightened sense of self-reliance, and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world in all its resplendent diversity.

source: Eric and Sarah on YouTube

2) Assessing Your Physical and Mental Preparedness

Embarking upon a backpacking journey is not merely an exploration of the world beyond one’s familiar confines, but it is also a considerable physical endeavor. The nature of backpacking, which often involves extended periods of walking, trekking, or hiking, requires a baseline level of physical fitness that can withstand and adapt to the rigors of the journey.

Understanding the Physical Demands of Backpacking

This physical readiness extends beyond mere endurance. The burden of carrying one’s necessities encapsulated in a single backpack makes a considerable demand on an individual’s strength. From navigating undulating terrains to negotiating crowded cityscapes, the backpacker’s constant companion is the load on their shoulders, which can be a relentless physical challenge.

Moreover, changes in altitude, climate, and dietary habits, coupled with irregular sleep patterns, can put additional strain on the body. It is essential, therefore, to recognize these demands and prepare the body suitably. Regular cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility enhancement, and maintaining a balanced diet can significantly contribute to enhancing one’s physical readiness for a backpacking journey.

Preparing yourself Mentally for the Challenges of Backpacking

Yet, physical preparation is only half the equation. The backpacking experience, punctuated with uncertainties and inconveniences, is as much a mental marathon as it is a physical one.

The transient nature of backpacking, where familiar faces and places are fleeting, can lead to feelings of loneliness and homesickness. The culture shock in a foreign land, the frustration of a language barrier, or the stress of navigating an unfamiliar public transportation system can be mentally taxing. In these situations, mental fortitude and resilience become invaluable assets.

Preparing oneself mentally involves cultivating a mindset of flexibility and adaptability. It is about fostering an appetite for problem-solving, a tolerance for discomfort, and an openness to the unfamiliar. Developing stress management techniques, such as meditation or mindfulness, can provide a bulwark against anxiety and improve mental resilience.

Moreover, setting realistic expectations and acknowledging the potential for things to veer off plan can help temper the inclination for everything to be perfect. It’s important to remember that the bumps and detours encountered along the way are often the precursors to the most memorable experiences and the most profound lessons.

Thus, as the backpacker steps into the world, their most trusted companions are their physical strength and mental resilience, the amalgamation of which prepares them to face the diverse challenges and experiences that the journey unfurls.

Selecting backpacking destinations around the world to visit on a map with a pin

3) Selecting Your Destinations

In the canvas of global backpacking, each destination is a unique palette of experiences, cultures, and landscapes. The selection of these destinations is an exercise of paramount importance, and requires comprehensive research to align the potential adventures with personal preferences, safety considerations, budget constraints, and logistical factors.

Researching Different Destinations

The research should extend beyond the glossy brochures and tourist websites to include travel blogs, online forums, social media platforms, and first-hand accounts from fellow backpackers. Delving into these sources can yield a wealth of information about off-the-beaten-path locations, local customs, affordable accommodations, and the realities of traveling in the chosen areas.

In this phase, it is also essential to assess the cost of living in potential destinations to ensure it aligns with your budget. Furthermore, understanding the best times to visit, climate conditions, local events or festivals, and any significant sights or attractions can significantly enhance the experience and logistical planning.

Considering Cultural, Political, and Geographical Factors

The idiosyncratic cultural, political, and geographical landscapes of each destination form an intricate tapestry that directly influences the backpacker’s experience. Therefore, these factors warrant careful consideration when selecting a backpacking destination.

Culturally, it is vital to understand the social norms, traditions, religious sensibilities, and the general attitude towards tourists in the chosen destinations. This knowledge is instrumental in fostering respectful interactions, minimizing culture shock, and enhancing the immersive experience.

Political stability is another crucial factor. Regions plagued by civil unrest, high crime rates, or strained diplomatic relations with the traveler’s home country can pose risks and complicate logistics. Regularly checking travel advisories issued by governmental bodies and international organizations can provide valuable insights into the prevailing political climate of potential destinations.

The geographical aspect is equally significant. The physical features of a region, from its terrain and climate to its biodiversity, impact the kind of activities available and the gear required. For instance, backpacking through the Himalayas presents a different set of challenges and rewards compared to traversing the bustling streets of Tokyo or exploring the rich biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest.

Therefore, by weaving together these multifaceted considerations – cultural, political, and geographical – one can craft a comprehensive tapestry that forms the backdrop of the ensuing backpacking saga, ensuring it is not just memorable, but also safe, respectful, and enriching.

Plan your route backpacking the world

4) Planning Your Route

Once the destinations are decided, the next step is charting the course of your expedition – a cartographic orchestration that balances logistical realities with the rhythm of your wanderlust. The very essence of plotting your journey is underpinned by a nuanced understanding of the interplay between time, distance, and the contours of your chosen geography.

Plotting Your Journey

Embarking on this aspect of planning entails meticulous scrutiny of various transport options, routes, and schedules. The most direct route between two points might not always be the most feasible or enriching. It is essential to consider factors such as cost, travel time, comfort, and the opportunity to explore intermediary points of interest.

Your journey’s plot should be informed by research into local transportation systems, potential travel disruptions, and visa requirements if crossing borders. Furthermore, understanding the seasonal variances in transport availability, especially in remote or weather-sensitive areas, is crucial to ensure smooth transitions between your chosen locales.

Flexibility In Your Plans

Nevertheless, while meticulous planning is an essential cornerstone of backpacking, it is equally crucial to infuse a degree of fluidity into your plans. The art of backpacking lies not merely in the disciplined orchestration of logistics but equally in the ability to adapt to the spontaneous symphony of the unforeseen.

Travel, by its very nature, is rife with unpredictability – a delayed train, a missed connection, an unforeseen local festival, or a chance encounter could quickly upend the most carefully laid plans. Hence, the savvy backpacker plans for flexibility, leaving room for serendipity and unexpected detours.

Flexibility can be built into your route by allowing free days in your itinerary, not booking all accommodations or transport in advance, and having a general sense of alternative options. This pliability in your plans lends itself to organic exploration and unscripted adventures that often form the most indelible memories of your backpacking expedition.

Thus, as you etch the blueprint of your journey, strive to strike a balance between the rigid confines of detailed planning and the liberating expanse of adaptable fluidity. This equilibrium allows you to navigate the meandering course of your voyage with confidence and openness, ready to seize the opportunities that lie in both meticulous plans and the thrill of unexpected diversions.

source: Backpacking Bananas on YouTube

5) Budgeting for Your Trip

Crafting a financial plan for your global sojourn requires an acute understanding of the multifarious costs associated with backpacking, combined with an analytical approach to estimation and allocation. The travel budget should encompass all expected expenditures, ranging from the tangible and easily predictable to the intangible and often overlooked.

Estimating Travel Costs

The more conspicuous costs include airfare, ground transportation, accommodation, food, and activity or entry fees. A scrupulous investigation into these expenses, informed by research into local prices, seasonality, and personal travel style, can yield a reasonable estimate.

However, the budget should also account for less obvious, yet equally significant expenses. These can include travel insurance, visas, vaccinations, travel gear, and miscellaneous costs like laundry, tips, or occasional splurges. Moreover, the cost of maintaining obligations back home, such as rent, storage, or insurance premiums, should also be factored in if the journey extends over several months.

Allocating Funds For Emergencies

Yet, even the most comprehensive budgeting exercise must acknowledge the inherent unpredictability of travel. It is prudent, therefore, to provision a fiscal buffer for unexpected occurrences – an emergency fund that is a lifeline in the tumultuous sea of unforeseen expenses.

Emergency funds could cover unplanned medical expenses, sudden transportation changes due to cancellations or delays, or unanticipated price increases in certain regions. They can also provide a safety net in case of theft or loss of belongings.

While the amount to be allocated to this fund can vary depending on the duration and nature of your trip, as well as your risk tolerance, a common suggestion is to set aside 10-20% of your total budget. This allocation should be easily accessible but separate from your main travel funds, thereby providing financial security without unintentionally eating into it for everyday expenses.

In essence, devising a budget for your backpacking adventure is an exercise in financial foresight, demanding both extensive research and judicious allocation. It calls for the backpacker to don the hat of a financial analyst, piecing together a monetary puzzle that, when complete, ensures the journey can be undertaken with fiscal confidence and security.

Choosing backpacking gear for traveling the world

6) Choosing the Right Backpacking Gear

The choice of backpacking gear is a strategic exercise in minimalist living, a careful balance of necessity against weight and durability. As a backpacker, your possessions are no longer scattered across a house, but instead, they are consolidated into a single backpack, carried on your shoulders through bustling cities, serene countryside, and rugged mountains.

Importance of Lightweight and Durable Gear

Every ounce added to this load has a direct bearing on your comfort and mobility. As such, selecting lightweight gear becomes a priority, particularly for those whose journey includes substantial physical activity such as hiking or trekking.

Simultaneously, the gear must also be durable. The rigors of backpacking place substantial demands on your belongings. From exposure to diverse weather conditions to the rough-and-tumble of constant travel, your gear must withstand these harsh realities over extended periods.

Therefore, the quest for the right gear demands meticulous scrutiny of product reviews, weight specifications, and durability reports. Whether it’s your backpack, clothing, sleeping bag, or travel gadgets, favor items that are crafted from durable, lightweight materials and are designed with the needs of backpackers in mind.

Key Items to Include in Your Backpack

What constitutes ‘essential’ can vary significantly among backpackers, influenced by factors such as destination, duration, and personal preference. However, some items are universally acknowledged as key components of any backpacker’s inventory.

A sturdy, comfortable backpack tops the list. Your choice of clothing should be versatile, quick-drying, and suitable for the expected climate and cultural norms of your destinations. A lightweight sleeping bag and a compact travel towel can come in handy in diverse situations.

Also essential are a well-stocked first-aid kit, including any necessary prescription medications, as well as travel-size toiletries adhering to airline regulations. You will need a reliable, multi-purpose tool kit, a water bottle, and portable chargers or adapters for your electronic devices.

Depending on your itinerary, you may also require specialized items like a tent, cooking equipment, hiking boots, or a swimsuit.

Remember, the aim is not to prepare for every possible contingency but to equip yourself for the most likely scenarios while keeping your load manageable. Your gear is your lifeline on the open road – a judicious selection ensures you have what you need without being weighed down by the superfluous.

source: Rick Steves’ Europe on YouTube

7) Learning Essential Skills

In the labyrinthine narrative of a backpacking journey, the backpacker is the protagonist, charting their path amidst the convoluted maze of foreign cities, unmarked trails, and vast wilderness. Thus, the art of navigation forms a critical skillset in the backpacker’s repertoire, a skillset combining traditional techniques, technological aid, and intuitive perception.

Navigational Skills

Competence in reading physical maps and understanding cardinal directions offer an invaluable tool when exploring off-grid areas or when technological resources fail. Further, the ability to interpret topographical maps is particularly important for those venturing into backcountry or mountainous regions.

In our digital age, proficiency in using GPS systems, map applications, and digital compasses is equally crucial. These tools provide real-time guidance, highlight points of interest, and can even help you retrace your steps in complex urban environments or extensive natural parks.

Simultaneously, the most seasoned backpackers develop an intuitive sense of direction, an awareness of their surroundings and spatial orientation, often guided by natural cues like the position of the sun or certain plant or animal behaviors.

Basic Survival Skills

Venturing into the unscripted realm of backpacking often nudges one to the peripheries of their comfort zone, placing them face-to-face with the raw realities of nature and the vagaries of travel. Hence, a fundamental understanding of survival skills can significantly enhance one’s safety and confidence during their sojourn.

Firstly, the ability to build a shelter can prove invaluable in the wilderness, providing protection against the elements. Likewise, knowing how to start a fire not only offers warmth and a means to cook food but can also serve as a signal in case of emergencies.

Basic first-aid knowledge is a necessity, allowing the prompt addressing of injuries or ailments. This includes understanding how to treat wounds, fractures, burns, and how to recognize and respond to symptoms of common travel-related conditions like dehydration, altitude sickness, or hypothermia.

Moreover, skills such as finding and purifying water, identifying edible plants, or basic fishing and hunting can prove lifesaving in survival situations. While these skills may seem unnecessary to the urban traveler, they are essential for those planning to venture into remote or wilderness areas.

Acquiring these skills may involve formal training, self-study, or attending specialized courses. Ultimately, the confident navigation and the comfort of basic survival knowledge weave a safety net, allowing the backpacker to immerse in their journey with an informed and assured stride.

Passport with airplane on top

8) Securing Travel Documents

The peripatetic nature of backpacking often involves crossing multiple national boundaries, each with its unique mosaic of regulations and entry requirements. Hence, securing the necessary visas and permits constitutes an indispensable step in the pre-journey preparations.

Obtaining Necessary Visas and Permits

The process of visa acquisition entails a thorough examination of the rules stipulated by each intended destination. This includes an understanding of the types of visas available, their respective eligibility criteria, the breadth of access they grant, and their duration of validity.

Permits, on the other hand, may be required for specific activities or access to certain regions within a country. This can range from trekking permits in protected natural parks, filming permits for those intending to document their journey, or special permits for regions with heightened security or environmental regulations.

To navigate this bureaucratic labyrinth, diligent research, early application, and compliance with each country’s process are paramount. Numerous official governmental websites and consular services provide updated information and guidelines, ensuring the traveler stays abreast of the latest visa and permit requirements.

Keeping Digital and Physical Copies

In the whirlwind of a backpacking trip, where movement is the only constant and unpredictability a travel companion, safeguarding your travel documents gains paramount importance. An effective strategy to achieve this necessitates a blend of digital preparedness and physical redundancy.

In our increasingly digital world, maintaining electronic copies of all critical documents provides a safety net against loss, theft, or damage. Scanned copies of your passport, visas, permits, travel insurance, and essential medical information should be stored on secure cloud services accessible from anywhere in the world. Furthermore, having these documents on a password-protected offline device, such as a flash drive or your smartphone, ensures accessibility even without internet connectivity.

Simultaneously, keeping physical copies of these documents provides an additional layer of security. These can be stored separately from the originals during transit and can prove particularly useful in regions with limited digital infrastructure.

Ensuring secure and ready access to your travel documents, both digitally and physically, serves as an insurance policy, a protective cocoon allowing you to navigate your journey’s uncertainties with greater peace of mind.

source: Expert Vagabond on YouTube

9) Taking Care of Health and Safety

As a globetrotter prepared to experience the wide-ranging palette of the world’s geographical, cultural, and ecological diversity, one must be aware of the health risks unique to each region. In this context, vaccinations function as a crucial prophylactic shield, protecting the traveler from a myriad of potential diseases.

Getting Necessary Vaccinations

A comprehensive immunization strategy requires an understanding of the recommended and mandatory vaccinations for each intended destination. This may include protection against diseases such as Hepatitis, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and others that might be prevalent in certain regions.

The process necessitates early planning, as some vaccines may need to be administered in multiple doses over several weeks or even months, and may take some time to provide full protection. Information on necessary immunizations can be found through reliable health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition to receiving necessary jabs, you should also secure an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), a document that verifies you’ve been vaccinated against specific diseases. Certain countries require this certificate for entry, particularly if you’re coming from or transiting through areas with high risks of certain illnesses.

Purchasing Appropriate Travel Insurance

The unpredictable and adventurous nature of backpacking underscores the importance of robust travel insurance. Such coverage provides a financial safety net against a plethora of potential adversities ranging from medical emergencies and evacuation, trip cancellations or interruptions, to lost or damaged baggage.

When selecting a travel insurance policy, it is vital to read the fine print meticulously, ensuring the coverage aligns with the nature and geography of your backpacking trip. Consider policies that cover emergency medical costs, including hospital charges and repatriation. If your journey involves engaging in adventure sports, make sure these activities are covered, as they are often excluded in standard policies.

Equally crucial is understanding the process of making a claim, including the documentation required and the timeframe within which the claim must be made. Keep a digital and physical copy of the insurance policy and the insurer’s contact information readily available during your trip.

In essence, securing appropriate vaccinations and travel insurance embodies a proactive approach towards health and safety, empowering you to embrace the spontaneity of backpacking with assurance and peace of mind.

source: Frugal Travellers on YouTube

10) Booking Initial Accommodations and Transportation

For the intrepid backpacker standing on the precipice of an international odyssey, the allure of absolute spontaneity often calls. However, as a counterpoint to this siren song of impulsivity, there exists a practical strategy: the pre-booking of accommodations for the initial days. This approach provides a cushion of stability and reassurance amidst the turbulence of travel, particularly after long-haul flights when fatigue and disorientation can be at their peak.

Pre-booking for the First Few Days

The choice of accommodation should reflect not only your budget but also considerations such as location, safety, and the opportunities for social interaction. From the minimalistic appeal of hostels and the cultural immersion of homestays, to the private comforts of guesthouses or short-term rental apartments, the options are as varied as the destinations themselves. Tools like online booking platforms and review websites offer an abundance of information to aid in this decision.

This initial anchor point serves several purposes. It allows acclimatization to a new time zone, recovery from jet lag, and adaptation to the local culture, climate, and pace of life. Furthermore, it offers a base from which to explore local surroundings, scout for future accommodations, and plan the next steps of the journey with relative comfort and peace of mind.

Evaluating Transportation Options

The metaphorical tapestry of a backpacking journey is interwoven with threads of myriad transportation modes, each with its unique rhythm, vantage point, and challenges. From the languid pace of long-distance trains and the shared camaraderie of public buses, to the exhilarating autonomy of bike rentals and the convenience of domestic flights, each mode presents a distinctive way to experience your travels.

Evaluating these transportation options necessitates a holistic view, incorporating factors such as cost, time efficiency, comfort, and environmental impact. Research into local transportation infrastructure, cultural norms, safety records, and traveler reviews can provide valuable insights into making an informed decision.

In the early stages of your journey, it might also be prudent to pre-book your transportation from the airport to your accommodation, mitigating potential confusion or scams in a new environment. Online platforms, travel agencies, and even accommodations often provide booking services for such transfers.

In summation, strategic pre-booking of initial accommodations and transportation offers a bridge, connecting the familiar stability of your home environment with the exhilarating uncertainty of your backpacking adventure. It serves as a launching pad, from which the free-spirited exploration that defines backpacking can truly commence.

Learning languages to better understand culture when traveling around the world as a backpacker

11) Understanding Local Cultures and Customs

As a backpacker seeking to immerse oneself in the magnificent tapestry of global cultures, understanding the social etiquette of your chosen destinations becomes a cornerstone of responsible and respectful travel. This endeavor demands a sensitive appreciation for the spectrum of human cultural expression, a recognition that our customary norms may not be universal.

Researching Social Etiquette

Cultural etiquette encompasses a broad and complex array of behavioral patterns and social norms. This could range from knowledge of table manners, public decorum, dress codes, and appropriate conversational topics, to an understanding of deep-rooted values, religious practices, and societal hierarchies.

This insight aids in avoiding unintentional disrespect or cultural faux pas, fostering meaningful connections with local communities, and enriching your own learning journey. It ultimately reflects a commitment to cultural exchange that is rooted in respect and understanding, which lies at the heart of meaningful travel.

Resources for researching cultural etiquette can be found in travel guides, cultural reference books, scholarly articles, and online forums. However, no resource can perfectly capture the nuances of real-world interactions, so maintaining an attitude of openness, observance, and adaptability remains crucial.

Learning Basic Phrases in Local Languages

The ability to communicate, even if in a rudimentary manner, in the local language of your destination, is a powerful tool in a backpacker’s arsenal. Language is not only a means of communication but also a bridge to understanding the soul of a culture, a window into its history, values, and worldview.

Learning basic phrases, greetings, numbers, and directional vocabulary can enhance your travel experience manifold. It can help in practical scenarios like asking for directions, ordering food, bargaining at local markets, and understanding signs. It also signifies respect for the local culture and often leads to more authentic interactions and deeper connections with local communities.

Numerous language learning platforms, phrasebooks, and mobile apps can assist in acquiring a basic vocabulary. But remember, language learning is as much about courage and resilience as it is about linguistic skill. So, don’t fear mistakes, as they are stepping stones in your language learning journey.

In conclusion, understanding local cultures and customs is a formative component of the backpacking journey. It allows the traveler not only to navigate foreign lands more gracefully but also to transform every encounter and experience into a thread in the tapestry of intercultural understanding and personal growth.

source: Alexander Ayling on YouTube

12) Packing Essentials

The philosophy of packing for a backpacking trip can be succinctly encapsulated in the adage, “Pack light, but pack right.” Deciding on the clothes to bring requires a careful balancing act, taking into consideration the multi-faceted nature of your journey, the climate variations, cultural norms, and practicality without compromising on the essential tenet of minimalism.

Deciding on What Clothes to Bring

A strategic approach towards clothing selection is layering. This technique allows for flexibility and adaptability in changing weather conditions and varying intensity of activities. A basic layering system might consist of a base layer for moisture management, a middle layer for insulation, and an outer layer for weather protection.

While packing, it is essential to consider the climates you will encounter on your trip. Depending on the geography and season of your destination, your wardrobe may vary from lightweight, breathable clothing for tropical climates, to thermals, hats, gloves, and scarves for colder regions.

Material choice is also crucial. Synthetic or woolen fabrics are often favored over cotton due to their quick-drying nature and better moisture-wicking properties. Remember, versatility is key; each item should serve multiple purposes if possible.

Lastly, but importantly, cultural sensitivity should be incorporated into your clothing choices, respecting local customs and norms, especially when visiting religious or traditional sites.

Essential Items for Hygiene and Health

Maintaining personal hygiene and health during your journey is paramount, and carrying a well-considered selection of essential items can ensure this.

Your hygiene kit should encompass travel-sized toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrush, biodegradable soap, shampoo, and personal hygiene items. A compact towel, preferably of a quick-drying fabric, is also valuable.

Health-related items should include a basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and specific medication if required. Essential medicines for common travel-related illnesses like diarrhea, altitude sickness, or motion sickness can be extremely handy.

It’s also worth carrying a small supply of any prescribed medication you take regularly, along with a copy of the prescription. Depending on your destination, you might also need items like insect repellent, sunscreen, water purification tablets, or a water filter.

In essence, packing for a backpacking trip is a study in thoughtful reduction and practical selection, ensuring you have what you need without being burdened by excess. The ultimate goal is to create a compact, lightweight pack that allows for mobility, flexibility, and resilience in the face of your grand adventure.

Wallet to manage your money while traveling around the world

13) Managing Your Money

As an international backpacker traversing the fascinating intricacies of our globalized world, a crucial aspect to consider is the management of funds abroad. Indeed, the assurance of financial access in foreign lands forms the lifeline that fuels your journey.

Accessing Funds Abroad

It is advisable to adopt a diversified approach to accessing funds, incorporating a blend of cash, debit cards, credit cards, and potentially prepaid travel cards or mobile payment applications. The combination ensures a backup if one mode fails, gets lost, or is not accepted in certain places.

Cash is beneficial for small vendors and remote regions where digital payment systems may not have proliferated. It is prudent to procure a modest amount of local currency before you arrive at your destination or immediately upon arrival for initial expenses.

Debit and credit cards provide convenience, often offering competitive exchange rates. However, one must be aware of potential foreign transaction fees. It is recommended to inform your bank about your travel plans to prevent your card from being blocked due to suspected fraudulent activity.

Prepaid travel cards can be loaded with multiple currencies, providing a degree of certainty with exchange rates and offering security features like card replacement. Mobile payment applications, meanwhile, are increasingly being adopted globally and may provide another convenient option for transactions.

Safeguarding Against Theft

The subject of safeguarding your money while traversing the globe invokes notions of both practical wisdom and strategic foresight.

An essential precept is to avoid carrying large amounts of cash, minimizing potential losses. When it is necessary, it’s advisable to divide your cash and cards between your daily-use wallet and a secure, hidden place among your belongings.

Investing in a quality money belt or a neck wallet can provide a secure, concealed place to store cash and cards. Consider using hotel or hostel lockers and safes for extra security. Additionally, it might be beneficial to carry a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired cards, especially in regions known for pickpocketing.

As a digital safeguard, it is prudent to maintain digital copies of all your important documents, including your passport, credit cards, and essential travel documents. These should be stored securely online where they can be accessed from anywhere.

In summary, careful planning and mindful practices are pivotal to managing and safeguarding your funds during your backpacking journey. By ensuring secure access to your finances, you can focus more fully on the immersive experiences that await in your global adventure.

source: Kristen & Siya on YouTube

14) Staying Connected

In our hyper-connected world, staying in touch while backpacking abroad has transformed from being a daunting task to a matter of choosing from an array of options. This shift is underpinned by advances in technology that have permeated even the most remote corners of the world.

International Communication Options

One of the fundamental decisions is choosing between local SIM cards, international roaming services, or relying solely on Wi-Fi connectivity. Each option presents its own constellation of benefits and limitations, and the choice often hinges on the nature of your travel, the duration, and the specific communication needs.

Procuring a local SIM card upon arrival at a destination provides the advantage of cost-effective local rates for data and calls, ensuring a robust connectivity option even in areas without Wi-Fi. Some countries or regions also offer tourist-friendly SIM cards with attractive packages.

International roaming services, offered by your home mobile operator, offer the convenience of maintaining your home number and seamless connectivity across multiple countries. However, they can often be more expensive than local SIM cards.

Wi-Fi connectivity, while not always reliable or universally available, especially in remote areas, has the benefit of being frequently free in public spaces like cafes, hostels, and airports. Utilizing internet-based communication applications like WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber can significantly reduce communication costs when connected to Wi-Fi.

Keeping Important Contacts Informed

Safeguarding your journey does not only rest on the tangible aspects of travel, such as packing and monetary matters, but also includes an often overlooked component: ensuring that your essential contacts are informed about your travel plans.

This cadre of contacts should include family and friends, but it might also be prudent to include relevant government bodies through services like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) offered by the U.S. Department of State, which keeps American travelers updated with safety conditions and can aid in family contact during emergencies.

Regularly sharing your itinerary, contact numbers, and addresses of accommodations ensures that these trusted individuals or entities are aware of your whereabouts and can provide assistance if necessary. However, this sharing should be done through secure methods to safeguard your personal information.

Remember, staying connected while backpacking isn’t just about ensuring you can upload your latest travel picture on Instagram or call for a pizza; it is about ensuring your safety, being able to connect with local resources, and keeping your loved ones informed and assured of your well-being.

Emergency Plan For Backpacking Around The World

15) Handling Emergencies

It’s an uncomfortable but necessary truth: even the most meticulously planned backpacking sojourn can be derailed by unforeseen emergencies. Having a well-conceived crisis response plan could be the pivotal factor between a temporary setback and a catastrophic end to your journey.

Developing a Crisis Response Plan

The essence of a robust crisis response plan lies in its versatility and comprehensiveness. It should encompass a wide array of potential mishaps, from health-related crises and lost belongings to natural disasters and political instability.

Foremost, ensure you have reliable travel insurance that offers comprehensive coverage for emergency medical treatment, repatriation, trip cancellation, and lost or stolen belongings. The peace of mind it affords can render it invaluable in times of crisis.

Next, ensure easy accessibility to important documents. Digital backups of your passport, visa, insurance policy, and other vital documents should be securely stored online for retrieval as needed.

Lastly, a contingency fund for emergencies can provide a financial buffer when faced with unexpected expenses. This could be set aside in a separate account or kept as a hidden reserve of cash.

Knowing Local Emergency Contacts

While every nation has a unique code of life, one universal truth remains: the importance of knowing local emergency contacts.

Prior to arrival, familiarize yourself with the emergency numbers for each destination, including services like police, ambulance, and the nearest embassy or consulate for your home country. In the European Union, for example, 112 is the general emergency number, while in the United States, it’s 911.

Knowing the location of the nearest healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics, is also pivotal, particularly for those with chronic health conditions or in regions with endemic diseases.

Handling emergencies while backpacking is about acknowledging that even amidst the euphoria of exploration, uncertainties lurk. It’s not a pessimistic perspective, but rather a pragmatic one, ensuring that your journey is safeguarded against the unexpected, enabling you to enjoy your adventures with the assurance of preparedness.

Ecological impact of backpacking around the world

16) Considering Ecological Impact

As we immerse ourselves in the thrilling chapters of global exploration, it is essential to remember that we are not just travelers but also stewards of the earth. Indeed, as we weave our own narratives of discovery, we must consider the footprints we leave behind. Thus, the doctrine of responsible travel becomes an ethical imperative for the conscientious backpacker.

Practicing Responsible Travel

Responsible travel encapsulates a multitude of considerations, each bearing its unique stamp on the ecological and sociocultural fabric of our destinations. At its core, it espouses respect — respect for the environment, for local cultures, for natural resources, and for the delicate balance that sustains the diverse ecosystems we traverse.

One aspect of responsible travel involves making informed choices about transportation, accommodations, and activities that minimize environmental harm. This might entail choosing public transport over private vehicles, selecting eco-friendly lodgings, or participating in tours run by companies that uphold ethical practices.

Further, it involves being a conscious consumer, favoring local businesses and artisans over mass-produced souvenirs and refraining from bargaining excessively in regions where income margins are often narrow.

Leaving No Trace

The concept of ‘Leave No Trace’ is the natural complement to responsible travel, representing an outdoor ethical system that originated from the United States Forest Service but has since found universal resonance. The seven principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ provide a comprehensive framework for reducing our environmental impact.

These principles encourage minimization of waste through practices like carrying reusable water bottles and bags, disposing of all waste properly, and refraining from taking ‘souvenirs’ from natural sites. They underscore the importance of respecting wildlife by observing from a distance and not feeding animals. Importantly, they also advocate respect for other visitors and for cultural resources, such as historical or religious sites.

Practicing responsible travel and leaving no trace is not merely an act of self-restraint but an act of positive contribution. It ensures that the tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and experiences that enrich our journeys today is preserved for the travelers of tomorrow. In doing so, we honor not just the privilege of travel, but also our collective responsibility as custodians of our shared global heritage.

source: Matt D’Avella on YouTube

17) Staying Fit and Healthy on the Road

Eating Healthily

The cornucopia of culinary delights that a backpacker encounters is undeniably one of the most exhilarating aspects of travel. Yet, while the prospect of indulging in a medley of unfamiliar cuisines is tempting, maintaining a balanced diet is of paramount importance to ensure health and vitality during your sojourn.

Maintaining dietary equilibrium necessitates an understanding of the nutritive value of the foods you consume and ensuring a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micronutrients. Regular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can supply vital vitamins and fiber, while lean meats, beans, and pulses provide protein. It’s also essential to ensure adequate hydration, particularly in hotter climates or when engaging in physically strenuous activities.

It’s also advisable to pay heed to food safety, particularly in regions where foodborne illnesses are prevalent. Adhering to the maxim “boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it” can go a long way in preventing travel-related gastroenteritis.

Staying Active

While the nomadic lifestyle of a backpacker may inherently involve a degree of physical exertion, consciously incorporating exercise into your routine can help to maintain fitness levels, elevate mood, and enhance overall well-being.

Simple strategies can be surprisingly effective. Opt for walking or cycling over motorized transportation where safe and feasible, take the stairs instead of lifts, and consider incorporating activities like swimming, hiking, or yoga into your itinerary.

Beyond physical health, these efforts can also enhance your travel experience. Walking or cycling offers a more intimate engagement with your surroundings, revealing nuances of local life that can be easily missed from a car or bus. Meanwhile, activities like yoga or meditation can offer moments of calm amidst the exhilaration of travel, fostering mental as well as physical equilibrium.

Staying fit and healthy on the road isn’t merely a logistical consideration — it’s an act of self-care that can profoundly impact your enjoyment and the quality of your backpacking adventure.

source: Travel Deeper on YouTube

18) Meeting New People and Making Friends

Backpacking isn’t merely a voyage through geographic terrains; it’s equally an odyssey through the human landscape. The connections forged, the camaraderie shared, and the friendships cultivated along the way can enhance the richness of your travel narrative immeasurably.

Embracing the Backpacking Community

The backbone of the backpacking community is a shared sense of adventure and an appreciation for the nuances of cultural exploration. This collective ethos fosters a welcoming environment that readily embraces newcomers. Hostels, backpacker bars, and communal kitchens often serve as vibrant social hubs where like-minded souls congregate. Engaging in group activities, such as city tours, hikes, or cooking classes, can also provide opportunities for socialization.

However, embracing the backpacking community is not merely about seeking companionship. It also involves contributing to the communal spirit. Sharing travel tips, assisting fellow backpackers in need, or merely partaking in communal chores can help strengthen the bonds within this community.

Keeping an Open Mind to New Experiences

Simultaneously, the pursuit of meaningful connections extends beyond the confines of the backpacking community. Keeping an open mind to new experiences and being willing to immerse oneself in the local culture can pave the way for interactions that transcend the boundaries of language and custom.

This might involve partaking in local festivals, volunteering in community projects, or simply initiating conversations with local residents. Learning a few words in the local language, respecting local customs, and showing genuine interest in understanding the local way of life can serve as effective ice-breakers.

Keeping an open mind extends to accepting differences in perspectives and lifestyles. It’s important to remember that travel should involve not just seeing new sights but also viewing familiar sights through new eyes. By doing so, you’re likely to return from your journey with not just a backpack full of souvenirs, but a mind enriched with friendships, stories, and experiences.

Enjoy the journey as you backpack around the world on your epic trip

19) Enjoying the Journey

The art of backpacking is akin to the crafting of a grand narrative, an odyssey marked not merely by sights seen but by the transformative encounters and hurdles overcome. Indeed, these challenges, whether logistical, physical, or emotional, form an integral part of the journey, their ultimate resolution often yielding moments of profound personal growth and insight.

Embracing Challenges as Part of the Experience

The challenges encountered may span a diverse spectrum — language barriers, unfamiliar cultural norms, unexpected detours, physical exhaustion, or bouts of homesickness. Yet, it is essential to perceive these not as hindrances but as facets of the expedition, the resolution of which often imbues the journey with a depth of meaning and personal relevance.

In the face of adversity, a paradigm shift in perspective often aids in the fostering of resilience. The art of reframing — viewing obstacles as opportunities for growth, viewing unfamiliarity as a chance for exploration — can transform the backpacking experience into a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

Remembering to Enjoy the Moment

Yet, as we navigate the exhilarating terrain of travel, it is crucial to temper our quest for discovery with a mindfulness of the present — to cherish the ephemeral moments of serenity amidst the hustle of exploration.

The essence of travel is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. It lies in the subtle interludes between destinations — the impromptu conversations with locals, the quiet contemplation of a sunset, the simple pleasure of a home-cooked meal in a foreign land. It is in these fleeting moments, often overlooked in the pursuit of the grand narrative, that the true joy of backpacking often lies.

Mindfulness — the practice of being fully engaged in the present moment — can greatly enhance our appreciation of these experiences. It fosters a deeper connection with our environment and ourselves, enabling us to derive joy not just from the extraordinary but also from the ordinary.

Thus, in the dynamic symphony of backpacking, the key to truly enjoying the journey lies in embracing the challenges and cherishing the moments of calm, in pursuing the novel and appreciating the familiar. After all, travel is less a destination to be reached than a journey to be savored, less a story to be told than an experience to be lived.

source: Grace Kim on YouTube

20) Post-Trip Reflections and Future Travel Planning

Upon returning from your journey, it can be both rewarding and enlightening to take the time to reflect on your experiences. This process can help to consolidate the multitude of emotions, encounters, and lessons that were a part of your backpacking odyssey.

Reflecting on Your Backpacking Journey

Consider keeping a travel journal, if you haven’t already, as a means to chronicle your observations, thoughts, and emotions. Capture not only the grand moments, but also the subtleties and personal insights that made the trip unique. Reflection also allows for a deeper appreciation of the experiences that have broadened your perspectives, heightened your resilience, and enriched your understanding of diverse cultures and environments.

Planning for Future Adventures

Post-trip reflections can also prove instrumental in planning for future travel. Assess the aspects of the trip that you found most fulfilling, as well as those that presented challenges. Use these insights to tailor future journeys to your evolving interests and competencies.

For instance, you may have discovered a particular affinity for certain types of environments, such as bustling cities, serene mountains, or quaint rural landscapes. Alternatively, you may have discerned a passion for certain activities, such as culinary exploration, historical tours, or adventure sports.

Equally, you might identify areas for improvement. Perhaps you’d benefit from honing your language skills, improving your physical fitness, or investing in higher quality travel gear. Each journey offers an opportunity for learning and personal growth, shaping not only the traveler you are, but the one you aspire to be.

Ultimately, the completion of one journey merely marks the commencement of the next. As such, backpacking becomes less an isolated event than a continuous journey of exploration and self-discovery, each voyage contributing to the ever-evolving narrative of the intrepid backpacker.

source: Tedx Talks on YouTube


The act of backpacking represents a unique amalgamation of curiosity, courage, and camaraderie, an intricate tapestry woven with threads of adventure, resilience, and self-discovery. Throughout this exposition, we have traversed a labyrinth of considerations intrinsic to the backpacking journey, each facet contributing to the artistry of the travel experience.

We began by delineating the quintessence of backpacking and assessing the physical and mental preparedness required. Subsequently, we explored the facets of destination selection, route planning, and budgeting, all critical in shaping the trajectory of the expedition. The choice of gear, acquisition of essential skills, and arrangement of travel documents surfaced as vital logistical components of the journey.

Moreover, we deliberated upon health considerations, initial accommodations, and transportation plans. An appreciation of local cultures, effective money management, and maintaining connections were discussed, followed by strategies for managing emergencies and maintaining ecological responsibility. The importance of staying fit and healthy, making friends, and enjoying the journey emerged as quintessential aspects of the backpacking narrative.

Prospective Backpackers to Embark on their Journey

As we stand at the confluence of these considerations, it becomes clear that backpacking is less a destination to be reached than a journey to be embarked upon, a kaleidoscope of experiences to be savored rather than a checklist to be completed.

To prospective backpackers poised on the cusp of this exhilarating journey, let these considerations serve not as daunting obstacles, but as stepping stones towards a comprehensive and enriching travel experience. Remember, the art of backpacking lies not in meticulous planning alone, but in balancing preparation with spontaneity, fostering resilience amidst adversity, and discovering joy in the ordinary.

So equip yourself with the requisite knowledge, but do not let the thirst for certainty dampen the spirit of adventure. The world is a grand tapestry, its vibrant threads waiting to weave themselves into the fabric of your narrative. So go forth, immerse yourself in the symphony of travel, and let the rhythm of adventure guide your path.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says: Jack

    Pretty caution-laden advice. Really cautious.
    An external hard drive?
    Are you crazy? How about a thumbdrive? A paper notebook and pencil?
    You will regret every extra ounce in that backpack, guaranteed.
    Insurance? Do not trust those insurance companies. No way.
    If you can’t let go, don’t go.
    Just go and quite acting like you’re a hundred years old!

  2. says: Immigrant Patty


    Nice list for us..Because some people they forgot some important thing that they need to bring. Specially if you will travel or go to some place you need to check all your things, like money,your clothes that you will use. don’t bring to much clothes when you will stay only for few days only,also don’t forget credit cards specially when you travel to other country you need to check all so that if you have no money you can use you card also make sure that your credit card is international . You can also bring your Id so that if you have problem you can present your Id. In case only for what happen to you can identify you.

    thats all thanks..

  3. All great suggestions. We personally didn’t bring an external hard drive but Gerard backs up our photos on the web. Didn’t think about the 2nd ATM though. Will keep that in mind for the second round-the-world trip. LOL 😉

  4. says: Lissie

    I always carry cash as well as cards. Cards don’t work always- they don’t work if you are stuck in Fiji at the moment – because there is no power! They don’t work when you need a little “favour” from an official. They don’t work when you are swapping local currencies at borders with other travellers.

  5. says: Ed Rex

    Totally agree with #5. Travel Towels are the best. I’ve used mine far too much even when I’m home!

    Gone are the days of having to apologise for the odour coming from my bag…

  6. Good list. I’m often surprised by people who haven’t really thought this through! I second what Katie says on the insurance though – make sure you don’t “pay twice” by checking first what your credit card automatically insures – mine covers so much in regard to airfares/delays etc plus my travel style means delays etc aren’t really a massive drama, so I also just use worldwide medical as a separate insurance. I don’t travel enough now to use it but previously just had an annual policy that I kept renewing, it was much more cost-effective at the time.

  7. says: Katie

    To add to #2 – not only have a backup, but know exactly what your bank for your primary card will do in case in gets lost/eaten/stolen. I had my Capital One ATM card eaten by a machine twice while in Russia – I managed to get it back from the local bank but in the process I learned that Capital One won’t ship replacement cards overseas.

    Also I would just emphasize the difference between travel insurance and worldwide medical insurance. I have the latter to cover me in situations like getting super sick overseas that also covers me when I return to the US. I do not have separate travel insurance to cover stuff like lost luggage, flight cancellations, etc because I don’t feel it’s necessary – my credit card provides insurance for anything I bought using the card so I feel I’m pretty well covered.

    1. Katie, those are great additional tips and I appreciate you taking the time to mention them. I honestly had no idea about certain credit cards not providing that service and I’m going to be especially careful from now. As far as the travel insurance is concerned that’s a great point. Also, there is special insurance to cover those who carry expensive gear (cameras, notebooks, etc) that is typically not covered in your standard travel insurance package.

  8. says: Bula @ The Irreverent Traveller

    I couldn’t agree more with the second card. Just in eight months, I’ve had my card eaten up by a machine in China and then stop working in Korea. I’m becoming friends with my bank. We’ll be on a first-name basis and I’ll be asking them about how their children are if this continues.

  9. says: Keith

    I can’t agree more with number two and this sounds really stupid but know your pin code. I had 2 credit cards with me when my ATM card stopped working but I could not recall the pin code on one of them so it was useless for getting a cash advance. It is also good to make sure you note when all cards expire.

  10. says: Julia

    I completely agree with #2. I was sort of horrified this summer when a friend in Paris had her ATM card eaten, and no backup. No backup! She was lucky to have a landline to call the US with to fix it, and extra lucky to have a boyfriend to loan her cash in the meantime — a cautionary tale…!